President Obama’s nominee to succeed Leon Panetta in the Pentagon’s top job, former Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel, should be a shoo-in for confirmation. Hagel volunteered for combat in Vietnam, served as deputy in the Reagan Veterans Administration, started the nation’s second-biggest independent cellular carrier, was elected twice to the U.S. Senate, and now co-chairs the president’s Intelligence Advisory Board (in addition to heading the Atlantic Council and teaching at Georgetown). Compared with most political appointees, he’s a dream candidate. But some Republicans say he’s too hard on Israel and too soft on its enemies. They also don’t like the way he criticized the Bush Administration’s ill-fated military campaign in Iraq. These Republicans need to wake up and realize the White House is offering them an extraordinary gift: a fellow conservative in the administration’s most important cabinet position. Hagel supported every conservative cause from missile defense to school vouchers to banning abortion during his time in the Senate, and voted for every defense authorization bill that came up. His complaints about mismanagement of the Iraq war and Israel’s interference in U.S. domestic politics are well-grounded in empirical reality. More importantly, he is just what this Pentagon needs to slim down and reform — which should make it easier for conservatives to accomplish their other goals. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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